Caribbean Stud in Las Vegas

Caribbean Stud Poker is credited as being invented in Aruba, but its actual origins are mostly likely Las Vegas. The reasons I say this is the story that famous gambling author and professional poker player David Sklansky invented a precursor to the game in 1987 called Casino Poker. Meanwhile it is widely accepted the idea to add a progressive jackpot developed during a poker game at Binion’s Horseshoe and this is what led to the game becoming so popular. Unfortunately these days Caribbean Stud Poker in Las Vegas is quite scarce.

Declining Popularity

As the first casino table game with a progressive jackpot, where players could risk just $1 for a chance to win tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, this game was once very popular in Vegas. In fact in the late 90’s, it could be found at virtually every casino in the city. As of 2010, there were only about a dozen properties offering it with my favorite locations being Golden Nugget downtown and Wynn and Planet Hollywood on the strip. To my surprise, when I visited in January 2012, I discovered all three of these casinos have removed it.

Perhaps the reason Caribbean Stud is less popular in Las Vegas is because of the high number of more modern card games offered here. For example Texas Hold’em Bonus, Let it Ride Poker, Three Card Poker, and Pai Gow Poker are more popular in Vegas than anywhere else in the world. Another thing that puts people off is that Caribbean Stud Poker also has a high house advantage and is high variance.

Las Vegas Casinos Offering Caribbean Stud

Luckily there are still four Las Vegas casinos that spread the game. These are Bally’s, Monte Carlo, Venetian and Palazzo all on the main Strip. The minimum bet at Bally’s and Monte Carlo is $5 with a $100 maximum bet. Venetian and Palazzo have a $10 minimum with a $500 maximum bet. The pay scale for the ante and bonus bet is standard, as covered on the Vegas.com rules page. The house advantage is 5.22% when computing house edge on only the ante. When using basic strategy and factoring in the raise bet, the house advantage lowers to 2.56%.

The progressive jackpot resets to $10,000 after it is hit. This money is seeded with the casino’s money. After that, about 70% of the jackpot bet is added to the progressive. When a player hits a royal flush, the money is removed directly from the jackpot. The hold covers the original $10,000 seeding money which is not held back from the previous jackpot. The payouts at all four casinos are flush $50, full house $100, four of a kind $500, straight flush 10% of the jackpot and royal flush 100%.

Collusion Warning

Las Vegas casinos are very clear about communication during hands. Players cannot discuss the contents of their hand while it is in play. Players can also not show other players their hand. The Venetian and Palazzo post signs stating that if players are caught exposing their cards to other players, or discussing the contents of their hand then their hand will be ruled dead.

New Bonus Bet Added

During my most recent trip I noticed some casinos were offering a new bonus bet involving Lucky Dealer, Lucky Player, and Magic Card which pays 5-1. How this works is you make a side-bet on either Player Hand or Dealer Hand, and then a digital display will then either come up Magic Card (with a random card shown), or will come up saying Lucky Player, or Lucky Dealer. How this works:

Magic Card: If the display shows magic card, if that card is dealt to you and you’ve placed a wager on Lucky Player you win, or if the card is dealt to the dealer and you made a wager on Lucky Dealer you win.

Lucky Player: If the display shows the words lucky player and you’re seated in the position shown and have made a Lucky Player wager you win.

Lucky Dealer: If the display shows the words lucky dealer and you’ve placed a wager on Lucky Dealer you win.

This side bet has a large house advantage, exceeding 14%. The exact advantage is hard to calculate as how often Magic Card (a better game for house) is selected over Lucky Dealer/Player is not known. The advantage however is considerably larger than 14% to the house. While 5-1 is a fun bet to try for, this is a good way to lose money in a hurry.

Conclusion

In other places, such as Atlantic City, Caribbean Stud Poker is still quite popular. Las Vegas appears however to have limited interest in this game, and while adding a high house edge side-bet might bleed money from the less savvy tourists faster, it won’t do much for the game’s growth. Although it is doubtful that Caribbean Stud will completely die in Las Vegas, it has become very hard to find. Luckily you can always fire up your laptop in your hotel room and play a few hands online!